A slender thread

Front Cover
Random House, 1997 - Nature - 305 pages
15 Reviews
Diane Ackermann volunteers every week at a local crisis center, where people call in anonymously, strung out, desperate, imploring, or hostile, holding on to hope through a phone line. Her secret life spent with callers is shocking, funny, stressful, healing, and inspiring. So, too, is her life in her backyard where the wild creatures she observes so closely are living their own lives on the edge. In her distinctive style she weaves these parallel threads into a book that is an astonishment. Using powerful stories of the human spirit set against a backdrop of the natural world she knows so well, Ackerman takes us with her on her travels between those intensely fascinating realms. A Slender Thread is bewitchingly like her previous, widely admired books. As ever, she is sensitive to her surroundings and to other creatures; poetic, passionate, amusing; blessed with a richly furnished mind that makes leaps of imagination and insight; adept at drawing on science, literature, history, psychology, and the immediate moment - and yet this book is dramatically different from the rest of her writing. Deeply personal and intimate, it merges her own story with the stories of others, and shares her private struggles and triumphs as well as her joyous immersion in life. We learn why many hummingbirds die in their sleep, of a distraught caller whose drunken husband is stuck in the chimney singing Irish songs, of animal suicides, of an eighty-five-year-old belly dancer, of a young woman who flees her marriage and spins an elaborate fantasy life in which she captains a team of superheroes who travel the world righting its many wrongs, of the evolution of depression and anxiety as well as of our mostcherished emotions, of Winston Churchill's horrifying secret, of the beauty of shade, of the hidden costs of creativity, and hundreds of other truths about being human. In the course of a year, almost everything dangerous or poignant that can happen to human beings prompts as call to a crisis center - from depression, suicide, and murder to all the trials, uncertainties, and conflicts of love. A Slender Thread is a compelling and nakedly autobiographical book, taking us deep into the heart of darkness and light.

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Review: A Slender Thread

User Review  - Mary - Goodreads

Diane Ackerman is an excellent writer. If you haven't read anything by her, I recommend trying something. Her range of topics tend towards the sciences. This book is about what it's like to work at a ... Read full review

Review: A Slender Thread

User Review  - Parvati - Goodreads

My overall opinion of this book is that the title is fitting. There are many topics covered in the book but the underlying theme is clearly about how complicated, and thus fragile human life can be ... Read full review


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About the author (1997)

Diane Ackerman is the best-selling author of A Natural History of the Senses, The Zookeeper's Wife, and many other books. She lives in Ithaca, New York, and Palm Beach, Florida.

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